Tag Archives: United Nations

Awaiting Francis

Will the Holy Father tackle the tough issues when he visits the United States? . . . 

by Judy Roberts

As excitement builds for Pope Francis’ historic visit to the United States in September, many Catholics are hoping the Holy Father will seize the opportunity to speak out on the issues that most concern them.

During his six-day trip, Pope Francis will address Congress and the United Nations, meet with President Obama, and preside over the first World Meeting of Families to take place in North America. Each venue would seem to offer him a platform for concerns like the plight of persecuted Christians, threats to religious freedom and the family, and the dangers inherent in embracing contraception and abortion.

Meeting with Obama

Leonard Leo

Leonard Leo

What the Holy Father will say remains to be seen. According to a White House statement, the Pope’s Sept. 23 meeting with President Obama will cover such issues as “caring for the marginalized and the poor, advancing economic opportunity for all, serving as good stewards of the environment, protecting religious minorities and promoting religious freedom around the world, and welcoming and integrating immigrants and refugees into our communities.”

However, parts of the Pope’s conversation with President Obama are likely to be private, giving the Holy Father an opportunity to discuss concerns that are not necessarily on the agenda.

Leonard Leo, a member of Legatus’ Northern Virginia Chapter, said the Pope and the President obviously share some similar perspectives on economic and immigration issues. However, Leo said he hopes the meeting will focus on areas where there is not agreement, such as the sanctity of human life, the natural moral order in relation to marriage, and freedom of conscience.

“We’re having a crisis in our country on the issue of conscience,” Leo said. “I think that the Holy Father having a dialogue with the President on that issue would be very useful. It may or may not have an impact, but I think it’s important.”

Leo, who is executive vice president of the Federalist Society and co-founder of the Catholic Association and the National Catholic Prayer Breakfast, said he also thinks the Holy Father will be in a good position to articulate the underpinnings of the Church’s teachings on life and traditional marriage, which are not widely understood.

Leo said he also hopes that Pope Francis will be able to discuss religious freedom with President Obama.

“The President’s vision is freedom of worship,” he said. “He’s perfectly happy to have us say our prayers in the pews. He’s not particularly happy with seeing religion in the public square, and America has a long history of embracing freedom of religion, which pertains to freedom of conscience.”

Religious freedom and the U.N.

Austin Ruse

Austin Ruse

Austin Ruse, president of the Catholic Family and Human Rights Institute, said he expects that the Holy Father will challenge President Obama on a broader understanding of religious freedom and freedom of conscience.

“Religious freedom is certainly ripe for conversation,” he said, both in the context of Christian businesses that want the right to refuse participation in same-sex weddings and those that object to providing abortifacient contraceptives in their health plans.

Ruse, whose group monitors and seeks to affect social policy debate at the United Nations, said when Pope Francis visits the U.N. on Sept. 25, he would not anticipate him talking about abortion, population control and contraception — concerns that are known to roil the international body. At the same time, he said, he will be disappointed if the Pope doesn’t mention them.

“He already says that we shouldn’t obsess on these types of issues, so I suspect that he will follow his own advice, which will be unfortunate because the African countries in particular are most upset at the imposition of this radical sexual ideology on their countries by U.N. agencies and western non-governmental organizations.”

Ruse said Pope Francis will likely talk about the environment, poverty, global inequality, human rights, and perhaps the plight of Christians in Africa and the Middle East — issues of concern to the U.N. on which the Holy Father has spoken.

“All these are very good things,” Ruse explained. “Tucked in among them I would love to hear him talk about what he himself has referred to as the gender ideology, which is being imposed on the developing world by western elites.”

On his return flight from the Philippines earlier this year, the Pope warned wealthy western nations against forcing this ideology — which holds that gender is not biological, but cultural — on developing nations by tying it to foreign aid and education.

Leo said the most important issue the Pope can address at the U.N. concerns what the international community is going to do about the persecution of Christians around the world. Neither the U.N. Council on Human Rights nor the General Assembly is doing enough about it, he said. “That’s what the Church can bring to bear at a meeting of the U.N. because we can speak with persuasive force and expertise.”

World Meeting of Families

Archbishop Charles Chaput

Archbishop Charles Chaput

Archbishop Charles Chaput of Philadelphia — where the Pope will take part in the World Meeting of Families from Sept. 26-27 — told Legatus magazine it’s obvious that family life is a signature concern of Francis’ pontificate.

In light of that, he said, “I think the Pope will press Catholics to take their faith more seriously and to conform their hearts and their behaviors to the truth of Catholic teaching about the family. That’s the only guarantee of a healthy family, and healthy families are the only guarantee of a healthy and humane society.”

Added Ruse: “I think it’s going to be a remarkable moment for him to speak to American Catholics about the importance of family and religious belief.” Ruse said he hopes the Pope is in a “rally-the-troops” mood because it’s a time when the American people are in need of leaders who will lead, particularly in the wake of court actions that have overturned the will of the people expressed in votes to define marriage as a union between one man and one woman.

Archbishop Chaput said he thinks Francis’ popularity means his U.S. visit will have a positive effect on Catholics who have drifted from the faith.

“Our work will begin after the Pope returns to Rome,” he said. “We need to live the kind of Christian witness that will draw alienated people more deeply back into the Church.”

JUDY ROBERTS is Legatus magazine’s staff writer.

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The Irish fight for life

Michael Sullivan writes that Irish politicians will soon unveil abortion legislation . . .

Michael C.X. Sullivan

Michael C.X. Sullivan

Ireland is key to the global pro-life movement for one reason: The Emerald Isle is a model nation for women’s health, and abortion is banned in all circumstances.

In 2007, the U.N. reported Ireland as the world’s safest place for a woman to have a baby; the maternal mortality is the world’s lowest In the U.K. and U.S., where abortion is legal, maternal mortality is two times higher and 3.5 times higher, respectively, than in Ireland. The nation’s ethos has made it a model for the world in terms of maternal health. This threatens the abortion industry.

The international abortion lobby depends on the big lie that abortion is a women’s health issue and that abortion bans lead to women dying from “illegal, unsafe, backstreet abortions.” As a result, Ireland is at the top of the international abortion lobby’s hit list because model nations’ policies are studied and often adopted by other countries. Ireland shows the world that the best abortion policy for women is no abortion at all.

George Soros and Chuck Feeney, a wealthy Irish-American entrepreneur, have given millions to the Irish abortion lobby. They have influenced the media and elite opinion with the lie that Irish women are dying from the country’s “backward” ban on abortion.

Last November, The Irish Times reported on the death of Dr. Savita Halappanavar and her 17-week-old unborn baby. They died due to E. coli-related blood poisoning, yet her death was exploited by the claim that it was due to her being “denied a termination” of pregnancy in “Catholic” Ireland. Three days before the story broke, abortion activists began preparing a public relations strategy and then pushed the story global. Headlines blasted around the world condemning Ireland for its religious culture and its “medieval ban on abortion” that “murders” women, sparking protest vigils to change Ireland’s laws.

Two weeks after the damage, the reporter who broke the story, Kitty Holland, admitted that the details of the story were “muddled” and that she was “not satisfied” that Savita or her husband ever requested a termination. Holland happens to be the daughter of two prominent abortion advocates.

The stage is now set. Later this year, Irish politicians will unveil legislation permitting abortion in cases where the mother is allegedly suicidal. This is the culmination of the abortion lobby’s decades-long legal strategy. This exception will supposedly limit “social abortions” taken for personal reasons unrelated to a medical condition.

Of course the reality is that a mental health exception is simply a political ploy to place apparent restrictions on abortion where none will exist in practice. It’s a deceptive strategy for achieving legalized abortion on demand. The proposed Irish legislation parallels the scheme used in California in 1967 to open the floodgates there before Roe v. Wade.

The California Therapeutic Abortion Act of 1967 permitted abortions in cases of mental illness when three physicians agreed that the exception applied. In one year, 61,572 babies were aborted in California and 98.2% of them were under the mental health exception. The California Supreme Court noted, “Serious doubt must exist that such a considerable number of pregnant women could have been [involuntarily] committed to a mental institution [the medical standard to permit an abortion].”

This is why the elites are pushing this deceptive strategy, despite the fact that abortion is never a treatment for suicidality — and the evidence indicates that abortion actually contributes to elevated suicide ideation. Over the last 30 years, only 79 mothers died in Ireland, and only two were suicides of women with a long history of mental health issues unrelated to pregnancy. Using the California strategy, abortion on demand will be a practical reality in Ireland.

Throughout history the Irish have risen up and overcome. But this fight is different. Pro-life forces are outfunded, and the opposition has the media and the elite in their pocket. The Church and pro-life advocates have the truth and the majority of the Irish people with them. However, they need to reach the people directly through ads (billboard, bus, train), social media, and direct mail campaigns to communicate the facts ignored by the biased news media. This is obviously an expensive undertaking and Ireland can’t do it alone — especially since their financial crisis. They need our help.

We Americans know the high cost of losing this battle, and Life House Ireland is in the thick of it. Its special report — The Crisis in Ireland — was prepared especially for Legates who traveled to Ireland on pilgrimage last fall. You can get your free report at IrishFightforLife.org. Join us in the fight for life!

MICHAEL C.X. SULLIVAN is a Chicago-based attorney. He is special counsel to Life House Ireland and the Thomas More Society. He is also an allied attorney to the Alliance Defending Freedom.

The fight for life at the United Nations

Sixty years ago South American delegates to the body that created the Universal Declaration of Human Rights tried to get explicit protection from abortion for the unborn child. The Soviet Union tried to get a universal right to abortion. Both failed. The compromise language says: “Everyone has the right to life, liberty and security of person.” To you and me that certainly looks like a prohibition on abortion, but that is not how it’s interpreted by the powers-that-be at the United Nations and in many places around the world.

This year the U.N. celebrates the 60th anniversary of the Universal Declaration, one of the founding documents of the U.N. and the modern human rights movement. It was negotiated in the shadow of the Nazi holocaust. The document was heavily influenced by Catholic thinkers like Jacques Maritain and also by those delegations of faithful Catholics from Latin America.

It is a good document, expressing essential Catholic teachings of the freedom and dignity of the human person: freedom of conscience, freedom to worship and many other aspirations of every human heart — aspirations placed there by God Himself.

The Universal Declaration was used to great effect in the Cold War. American policy makers and freedom fighters on the ground around the world used it effectively to help those enslaved in the grip of Godless totalitarianism. We could use it as a tool in our day too, but sadly the lingua franca of human rights has been greatly devalued by the growth of phony rights.

Some years ago, during a U.N. negotiation, one of my staff members took a picture of a meeting. In the picture was a pro-abortion radical who represented the Girl Scouts at the U.N. She complained loudly that by taking her picture we violated her human rights. Such is the debasement of human rights.

Hearkening back to the founding argument, many have never given up on making abortion a universally recognized human right. At the U.N. level this is being led most notably by the European Union, along with their allies in the U.N. agencies and U.N. bureaucracy. Over the years they have tried to get an explicit right to abortion in various U.N. documents. They have failed because they have been stopped by a coalition of U.N. member states and non-governmental organizations such as my own, the Catholic Family & Human Rights Institute (C-FAM). But they are sneaky and sly. Though they have lost these debates, they have found a way to advance their cause far from the democratic process.

The U.N. has committees called treaty monitoring bodies. When a government ratifies a treaty, they must explain to one of these committees how they are implementing the treaty. These treaty bodies have highly limited power to ask questions and write reports. What they have done — like bureaucrats everywhere — is grab more power. They have taken it upon themselves to reinterpret these treaties in more and more radical ways and then to try and impose this new interpretation onto sovereign states. Keep in mind that these treaty monitoring bodies are made up of unelected radicals unconnected to sovereign states. They are mostly academics and representatives of radical pro-abortion groups.

The treaty monitoring body of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, one of the implementing treaties of the Universal Declaration, has interpreted that treaty as including the right to abortion. That’s right — the right to life passage in that treaty is now interpreted as guaranteeing a right to abortion! The major treaty monitoring bodies routinely find a right to abortion in everything.

When the Universal Declaration of Human Rights hits 60 years old in December, there will be celebrations galore. A few months ago we noticed that a group called Marie Stopes International was running a petition campaign asking the U.N. to formally interpret the Universal Declaration as including a right to abortion. Marie Stopes is a British group which, like International Planned Parenthood Federation, is one of the world’s largest and richest abortion providers.

We noticed something else about their campaign. Their petition drive had been running for a year and had only gotten a few hundred signatures! We reported on this in our organization’s weekly Friday Fax report, which goes to nearly 100,000 people all over the world. Marie Stopes was shamed into taking their failed campaign down.

We decided to do something else. We launched a campaign of our own. Our petition asks governments to begin interpreting the Universal Declaration as protecting the unborn child from abortion and also protecting the traditional family, which the Declaration defines as between one man and one woman. We are at nearly 170,000 signatories from all over the world after only a few weeks. We could go to 200,000, maybe more. The petition has been translated into 12 languages and is rapidly circling the globe.

A coalition of 12 groups from around the world will present our petition in the official U.N. press briefing room at 11 a.m. on Dec. 10. The truth always will out.

Austin Ruse is president of the Catholic Family & Human Rights Institute (C-FAM), the only pro-life group working exclusively on pro-life issues at the U.N. He has spoken to many Legatus chapters and several times at Summits. He welcomes your comments at austinruse@c-fam.org.